Shalott, The Lady of

views updated May 09 2018

Shalott, The Lady of

In the Arthurian legends*, the Lady of Shalott was a young woman named Elaine of Astolat who died of unfulfilled love for Sir Lancelot, the greatest of King Arthur's knights. Lancelot had entered a jousting tournament but wanted to hide his true identity so he asked Elaine to give him a different shield. In return, he agreed to wear her colors in the tournament.

Lancelot won the contest, but he was injured and fled to avoid being discovered. Elaine found him and nursed him back to health. She also revealed her love for him. However, Lancelot could not return her affections because he loved Guinevere.

joust fight on horseback between two knights

The heartbroken Elaine died of grief, but before dying, she wrote a letter to Lancelot requesting that he bury her. Her father placed the letter in her hand and put her body on a barge, which a mute boatman rowed to King Arthur's court at Camelot. Lancelot saw the barge and recognized Elaine. When King Arthur read Elaine's letter, he asked Lancelot to bury her, thus granting her final request.

See also Arthurian Legends; Lancelot.

Lady of Shalott, The

views updated May 17 2018

Lady of Shalott, The. Cantata by Phyllis Tate, setting of Tennyson's poem, for ten., va., perc., 2 pf., and celesta. Comp. 1956 for 10th anniv. of BBC 3rd Programme. Also cantata by Maurice Jacobson.

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The Lady of Shalott

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